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Human power circumnavigation update: Dimitri Kieffer without a gun in brown bear territory

Posted: Apr 21, 2011 08:06 pm EDT

(By Correne Coetzer/ story corrected May 31) Dimitri Kieffer is closing in on his destination with water/river crossings, potential bear encounters and potential annoying rain ahead. It has been 47 days since he has left Paren on this three month section through Russia.

Lately he has been traveling mostly up the Shirokaya River. Night travel on the river is a bit risky, he reports, as it has deep crevasses that need to be seen and avoided. He and his sled crawled and grinded up a steep pass. Fresh brown bear tracks greeted him around his tent.[Ed note, correction May 31: Dimitri notified ExWeb that it is actually brown bear territory, not polar bear territory, as previously reported.]

Snow, rain, bear tracks and hunters

Dimitri writes in his blog that the first two days after leaving Shirokaya bear hunting outpost, he had to progress through heavy slushy snow and in rain.

On the third day, as he was progressively gaining elevation, the weather got sunnier and the snow firmer to travel on. A real pleasure! Dimitri added, except for the potential crevasse dangers at night time.

Getting out of the tent on the third day, he saw bear tracks around his tent. Seven kilometers into the next day, he met 4 snowmobilers bear hunters, coming down the pass from Omsukchan on their way to Shirokaya bear hunting camp and further. They are the only humans he has seen so far on this section.

Very exciting news, says Dimitri, because they were giving me some fresh snowmobile tracks to follow and if the weather continues to hold for a while, I should be able to follow their fresh tracks, making my travel much easier and potentially faster!

They told me at the time that it took them 10 hrs in powerful skidoos and arctic cat snowmobiles to cover the 107 km since Galimiy (a coal mine located between here and Omsukchan) and that I should expect further up the pass, some real steep sections going up the pass and 3 river / water crossings on the other side where I will probably have to use my dry suit.

They ate bread and sala together and drank vodka; and gave Dimirti sausage and cheese for the road.

On my 5th day, I had the pleasure to be woken up by a cute fox whistling very near my tent!

Shirokaya Pass a challenge

Going over the Shirokaya Pass was a challenge as he had predicted, Dimitri says, Long and getting steeper and steeper!

For the last 5 km, I switched from skis to snowshoes so that I could get a better grip on the steeper icy incline, while pulling my sled! I couldn't also jump two meters down, or sideways with Omsukchan express [his sled] over a crevasse like intense Russian snowmobilers apparently can! Omsukchan express and I had to crawl and grind through those sections!

In addition, as I was progressing through a steep icy ravine and frozen cascade, I saw there some relatively fresh bigger bear prints! Surely not a place where I wanted to meet one! Gunless, but armed with flares and pepper spray, I have not seen any live bear this year so far, and would be very content to not seen any!

I got to the pass (884 meters) at 21h30 and since it was windy and snowy, while the moon was trying to pierce through the clouds, I went 6 km further down a beautiful wide, white valley until I could get a good unexposed site to camp behind pine trees! Yes, I am surrounded by Christmas trees!

He says it should be easier to travel the next and final 99 km, except for the coming up thee water/river crossings, the potential bear encounters and the potential annoying rain.

Position: April 19, 2011:
N 62° 15.751, E157° 02.484
483 km travelled, 99 to go

Karl Busby

No new news.

Dimitri Kieffer was born in France and moved to the USA when he was 17. He runs ultra-marathons and participates in adventure races. Since 2005, Dimitri has continued to evolve, transferring from adventure racing to full blown expeditions, like this Circumnavigation around the Globe with only using human power.

The circumnavigation started on February 26, 2005 at Knik Lake, near Anchorage, Alaska. Dimitri plans to complete the entire Nexus Expedition by 2016.

Stages already completed:

First Section: Knik Lake (near Anchorage, Alaska) - Nome (Alaska)
Feb April 2005, 37 days, 1100 miles 1770 kilometers
Completed by foot (trekking & snowshoeing) the Iditarod Trail Invitational race

Second Section: Nome (Alaska) Wales (Alaska)
Feb 2006, 9 days, 115 miles 185 kilometers
Completed by foot (Trekking & Back Country Skiing)
(with Goliath Expedition - Karl Bushby)

Third Section: Nome (Alaska) Uelen (Russia) Bering Strait Crossing
March 17-31 2006, 14 days, 5 days where swimming was required
200 miles 322 kilometers
Completed by foot (trekking & back country skiing) & swimming
(with Goliath Expedition - Karl Bushby)

Fourth section: Uelen to Egvekinot (Chukotka, Russia)
April 12- May 16 2007, 34 days, 425 miles 684 kilometers
Completed by foot (Back Country Skiing and only trekking after Vastoshisno)
Uelen - Anguema (with Goliath Expedition - Karl Bushby)
Anguema - Uelen (solo)

Fifth section:
Egvekinot to Vayegi (Chukotka, Russia)
April 15 - June 7, 2008
exact amount of trekking days still being tabulated
Approximately 600 miles / 965 km
exact number of miles still being tabulated.

Completed on foot (back country skiing, trekking with a backpack and pulling the sled simultaneously, swimming and using the sled as kayak while going down rivers).

Sixth section:
Vayegi (Chukotka, Russia) - Paren (Kamchatka, Russia)
March 11 - May 13 2010
707 km completed, 63 days.

Location May 17, 2010:
N 62° 25.040'; E 163° 05.160'
Paren, Northwestern Kamchatka
Total kilometers covered Spring 2010: 707.2 km
Manily to Paren 199.4 km

In March 2010, Dimitri return to the village of Vayegi and continued by foot and skis while pulling a sled moving Southwest towards Kamchatka. He completed the first month in company of Yakut trekker Nyurgun Efremov who stopped in the village of Slautnoye, Kamchatka.

From there on, Dimitri completed the next 200 km in company of three beautiful erring dogs and reached Kamenskoye. After having left the 3 canines in good company, he continued solo, mostly following the coastline where he could still find barely enough ice to slide his sled on, swimming and backpacking along the way and was finally able to reach the remote Koryak fishing village of Paren.

Dimitri was also enthused to be able to meet and stay for a few days along the way with two different "brigades" of reindeer herders, a Chukchi one and a Koryak one, where he was able to learn and appreciate their nomadic culture.

Seventh section:
Paren (Kamchatka, Russia) - Omsukchan in Magadanskaya Oblast.
Dimitri is returning in Kamchatka in February 2011 to continue trekking and skiing 423 miles (680 km) from Paren in Kamchtaka Koryak Okrug to Omsukchan in Magadanskaya Oblast. He plans to cover this section by skis and snowshoes, while pulling a sled on tundra, considering the absence of roads in this remote part of the world. His route should take him from Paren to Omsukchan via Verniy Paren, Chaibura, Ghiziga, Evensk, Tavatum and Merenga.

Dimitri: At that point, I will have completed and therefore connected by human power, what I like to call the "missing link" between Omsukchan, Russia and Anchorage, Alaska, USA. This "missing link" is indeed where no connecting paved roads exist between the European and Asian continents and the American continents.

Once upon reaching Omsukchan, he will switch to biking and continue Westbound towards Europe, connecting the European, Asian and American continents. He will be able to join the
M56 Kolyma Highway also known as the infamous "road of bones".

Dimitri plans to have completed the entire expedition by 2016, upon reaching Knik Lake, after having circumnavigated the globe via human power.

Dimitri Kieffers expedition videos.

Dimitri Kieffer is blogging over CONTACT 5

British Karl Bushby, an ex-paratrooper, born in 1969, has already walked through South, Central and North America, Alaska, across the Bearing Strait and through a part of North-eastern Russia where he stopped on May 18, 2008 at Bilibino, Chukotka.

#Polar #Trek

Dimitri Kieffer: "I was progressing through a steep icy ravine and frozen cascade, I saw there some relatively fresh bigger bear prints! Surely not a place where I wanted to meet [a bear]!"
courtesy Dimitri Kieffer (live over Contact5), SOURCE